the magic of a poem…a list of five poetry books for young children

I had so much fun looking for poetry collections for National Poetry Month in April, I couldn’t help but post some more.

Reading poetry with children is a splendid way to sharpen our senses, taste the deliciousness of words and patterns and rhythms, and simply enjoy interesting wonder-fying thoughts. Whether they’re funny or beautiful or sad, poems enrich us.

These five books cater to the very young, with short poems and outstanding  artwork.

a child's book of poems cover imageA Child’s Book of Poems, collected and illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa

Whatever Gyo Fujikawa illustrated is worth the having, and this collection of poems is packed with her captivating work.

Both her line drawings and her paintings usher us into an enchanting, blissful worlda child's book of poems illustration gyo fujikawa of beauty and nature, imagination and playfulness, kindness and contentment. Her multi-racial children, their pleasing bustle, and the emotions found in their faces and postures, win us over, make us pour over each small drawing, and cause us to imagine ourselves in the place of the child on the page. Each tiny detail she tucks in is long remembered.

This collection of poems contains the most classic poetry of today’s list of five, and perhaps the largest number of poems. There are poems from William Blake, Robert Browning, Lewis Carroll, Emily Dickinson, Kate Greenaway, Keats, Longfellow, Shakespeare, Stevenson, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and quite a few from Christina Rossetti, among many other well-known poets. The pages are prolifically illustrated, some with double page, full color enchantments, some with numerous, masterful, ink drawings. 

This is such a beautiful book, and will suit children ages 3 to 12 very nicely. 

here's a little poem cover imageHere’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

This package of delight for toddlers lives up to its name — it’s a fantastic choice for a first book of poems.

Bursting with vivacious color, charmingly capricious children, and buckets of happiness, it will draw children in like a candy store window.

Polly Dunbar’s illustrations are adorable and winsome and happy. Every here's a little poem illustration polly dunbarsingle page sings out with love, and lovely multi-racial families, and sunshine and fair weather, yet there is a lovely distinction to the pages — each one is unique and enticing, making it a cinch for children to recognize the page with their favorite poem.

The poems, printed in colorful letters and friendly type,  are geared for the youngest of listeners. It’s a wonderful selection, arranged as we walk through the day from morning wake-up until bedtime, by some of the best and dearest children’s poets — Dorothy Aldis, Aileen Fisher, Nikki Grimes, Mary Ann Hoberman, Margaret Mahy, A.A. Milne, and a host of others. Playful, silly, and sweet — I really love this book.

to baby with love cover imageTo Baby With Love — collected and illustrated by Jan Ormerod

I am a huge Jan Ormerod fan, and the little fellow in his stripey sleeper on the cover of thisto baby with love illustration jan ormerod 001 book is a clue as to why. What a charming baby, in such a comfy pose, with plumpness in all the right places!

This slim volume is another happy choice for the very youngest listeners — even under-twos will love it.  It holds just five poems! You can read the whole book, and then read it again…and again. The poems, simple and familiar,  are What Are We to Do?, Two Little to baby with love illustration2 jan ormerod 001Dicky Birds, Chickens, Five Little Ducks, and Turtle. 

There’s often only one line of a poem on a  page, so Ormerod drenches these tiny treasures in rapturous color and bold designs. I think you have never met a more winsome piglet or proud mama hen, not to mention the expressive children. Warm, bold,  cheerful — that’s the feel of this charming little book. It would make a great baby shower gift, if you can find a copy.

poems for the very young cover imagePoems for the Very Young, selected by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Bob Graham

Bob Graham’s loose, humorous, home-ly, style makes me smile instantaneously. So, having his jolly illustrations profusely gamboling about  this book gives it a splash of good humor right off the bat.

Michael Rosen has selected a delightful group of poems for poems for the very young illust. bob graham 001the very young — preschool and up — including a great deal of playful, funny or nonsensical pieces that children adore.

Between the two of them, then, this is the most lighthearted book in today’s list, with dogs and toys and bedlam and chocolate smears and spilled milk and a collision or two spilling from the pages. There are quite a few poems here, all short and to the point.

A great choice for the liveliest of listeners, who will identify readily with these rambunctious playfellows, and laugh, and beg for more. My children loved hearing funny poems when they were small. They make a mighty pleasant start to a day, or a bad day better. Instant sunshine.

my very first mother goose cover imageMy Very First Mother Goose, edited by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Mother Goose is essential children’s literature. These  marvelous bits of our culture, the rhythms and word play, the famous and beloved characters, the shocking tales, the nonsense, the ease with which a teensy rhyme can be learned by heart to use while slogging through tiresome tasks or what-have-you — all of this is bundled up in Mother Goose.

This selection of nursery rhymes was pulled together by Iona Opie, who I my very first mother goose illus. rosemary wells 001guess knew more about our folklore and nursery rhymes than just about anyone else on the planet.

Rosemary Wells’ iconic illustrations make this nice, stout volume radiate with color, burst with vitality, cajole with charm.  Who but Rosemary can draw such adorable bunnies and mice and kittens and pigs, outfit them in such dashed adorable wardrobes, and make them gush with personality?! She is a wonder.

Toddlers will be entranced by the pictures on these nice, big pages as they hear over and over and over the tale of Humpty Dumpty, the cat and the fiddle, Jack Horner, and Little Boy Blue. There are quite a few rhymes that will be unfamiliar to you as well. Immense fun!

Here are Amazon links for these magical worlds of poetry:
A Child’s Book of Poems
Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
Jan Ormerod’s to Baby with Love
Poems for the Very Young
My Very First Mother Goose